1. Avoid phone traffic
For a routine appointment, call midmorning to early afternoon on Tuesday through Thursday. Patients tend to call first thing Monday morning, says Laura Tammaro, who manages the triage desk at Malvern’s Women for Women, and on Friday afternoons, when they realize they need a new prescription for the weekend.
2. Dodge waiting-room wait
At many offices, booking the first appointment of the day reduces the risk a doctor will be running behind when you arrive. However, at Tammaro’s office the speediest slot is right after lunch. To be safe, ask the front desk which time gives you the best shot at a quick appointment.
3. Score last-minute appointments
Ask if there have been any cancellations, and be willing to see a different doctor just this once: “It gives us more options to find an opening,” Tammaro says.
4. Simplify referrals
Have all the info you need before calling: your name, your date of birth, the date of your appointment, the doctor you’re seeing, and the doctor’s provider number—”It’s how we identify doctors in our system,” says Terry Marshall, office coordinator for Michael Cirigliano Internal Medicine.
5. Master messages
To avoid phone tag, include in your message whether it’s okay for the office to leave a detailed message at the number you give: “Due to privacy laws, we can’t leave any information unless you tell us it’s okay to,” says Tammaro.